Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Kind Of A Big Deal

The Presbyterian Church is going to allow ministers to conduct same sex marriage in states where it is legal.  With all respect to the Quakers and Unitarians, this is the first major protestant church to make this move.

No doubt a few more Presbyterian congregations will leave the US church (is there a Presbyterian church in Uganda they can join), but overall that seems a small price to pay.

One of the best results of the disestablishment of religion in the US 220 years ago is that it allowed for a multiplicity of faiths to emerge, thrive, die out or survive.  While most Americans are "Christian" there are so many different flavors that you can't really talk about a unified, central Christian church in America.  The Baptists?  The Unitarians?  Mormons?  Episcopalians? Pentecostals?  Methodists?  Presbyterians? Quakers? Jehovah's Witnesses? Seventh Day Adventists?

Catholics?  Jews? Orthodox, Conservative or Reform? Muslims? Sunni, Shia or Sufi?  Buddhists?  Mahayan, Theravada or Zen?  Hindu?

The very reason that religion in America is thriving relative to the rest of the post-industrial world is that Americans have the freedom to worship as they please.  I remember during the debate over ordaining Eugene Robinson as a bishop in the Episcopal church, my pastor said of those who threatened to bolt the church if an openly gay man was made a bishop, "Let them go. Not out of spite, but out of respect for the difference in opinion we have."

Religious pluralism is essential to healthy civic life.  Don't believe me, look at at the Middle East.  Look at Iraq and Syria.

If some Presbyterians bolt their church or form a new synod of their own, so be it.  Good, in fact.

We approach the mystery of divinity in so many ways, it's impossible to proscribe one approach without being a tyrant.  This realization is what makes Pope Francis such as awesome pope.  He understands that faith cannot be about rules, but about service and love.

This is something that the Taliban and ISIS and the mullahs of Iran and - yes - conservative American Christians don't seem to understand.

I used to watch this old British comedy sketch show - I can't even recall the name - that came on late at night.  At the end of the show, the host - who I imagine was Irish - would sign off with a simple benediction: "May your god go with you."

Only by acknowledging that can we have peace on earth and good will towards men and women.

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